The A-bomb destroyed virtually everything on the ground within approximately 2 kilometers of the bomb’s hypocenter. A few structures did, in various states of destruction, remain standing. These buildings can be seen on photographs of the yake-no-hara, or “burnt plain”, to which the center of the city was reduced. [日本語]
The most famous is the former Hiroshima Prefectural Products Exhibition Hall, now known as the A-bomb Dome. The most well-preserved of the buildings that survived the blast, however, was the Hiroshima Branch Building of the Bank of Japan, located in Fukuromachi on the busy Rijyo-dōri which connects Hiroshima Castle with the city hall.
The Bank of Japan opened a branch in Hiroshima in 1905 in response to the city’s development as an important logistics base for the military during the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars. The branch was moved from its original location south of where the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum now stands, to Fukuromachi in 1936.
The purpose built 3 story building of classical design was, thus, still relatively new in 1945 and had been built according to the strictest anti-earthquake standards of the time. While the steel reinforced ferro-concrete structure and the armored shutters, could not protect the 54 people at work inside the building on the morning of August 6, 1945, all of whom lost their lives, the building itself remained relatively unscathed.
The armored window shutters on the top floor where local officials of the Ministry of Finance worked were open, and on the the whole floor was completely burnt out. The shutters on the first and second floors were closed, however, protecting the interior.
Remarkably, only two days after the bombing, the Bank of Japan reopened for withdrawals and provided space for temporary branches of other financial institutions in which to operate. It continued to function as a bank until March, 1992.
Designated as an important cultural site by the Hiroshima city government in 2000, the Bank of Japan donated the building to the city and it is now used as an atmospheric art space and for cultural events.
Entry is always free, and it is well worth dropping in to take a look if something is going on. Even when there is no exhibition or event taking place, wandering around the lobby, offices and around the, somewhat eerie, underground vaults is 30 minutes well spent.
Opening hours: 10:00-17:00
Closed: December 29-January 3
Address: 5-21 Fukuro-machi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0036
Telephone enquiries: 082-504-2500
View Former Bank of Japan, Hiroshima Branch (Kyunichigin) in a larger map